RE: Memetic engineering challenge

Aaron Agassi (
Wed, 7 Jul 1999 15:14:46 -0400

From: "Aaron Agassi" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: Memetic engineering challenge
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 15:14:46 -0400
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Lawrence H. de Bivort
> Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 1999 1:35 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Memetic engineering challenge
> On Wed, 7 Jul 1999, Aaron Agassi wrote:
> >> >> Agassi:
> >> >> >Shall I offer a meme design challenge?
> >>
> >> de Bivort:
> >> >> Excellent, please do.
> >> >> (Reservation: if the response calls for discussion that is
> >> best not done
> >> >> publicly, I'll avoid doing so.)
> >> >I will be nothing less than thrilled to get anywhere near a
> point where
> >> >secrecy is either warranted or desired!
> >>
> >> We've been concerned about the public discussion of memes from day one,
> >> but that may be because our immediate interest was in their practical
> >> applications. I worry enormously about several aspects:
> >>
> >> 1. That the 'bad guys' will end up possessing memetic engineering
> >> capbilities
> >I fear that you are too late.
> Hmmmm. This is not my impression, to judge by the results. But maybe we
> are assuming different meanings to 'bad guys'? Can you say more about
> being 'too late'?
Bad people are memetic engineers, even when they are fool enough to believe
their own lies. The Mafia, in particular, has disseminated all manner of
memes on ethics, such as the code of silence and accepting the consequences
of dealing with the Mafia, as then imposed by the Mafia. That organized
crime is good, when it does evil for it's own profit. A special standard
applies. That the Mafia is family oriented. Etc. Also responses to placate
them, that only keep them coming back.
> >> 2. That poorly designed or destructive memes will end up being released
> >> though not with ill intention
> >I fear that you are too late.
> Yes, agreed. But we could see worse, and on a larger scale, and my more
> actors.
> I know that ultimately there is no keeping this bottled up, but perhaps we
> can slow it down. Best yet are the creation and release of some meta-memes
> -- memes about memes -- that have some protective value.
> >> 3. That so many memes will be released that the memes _we_ release will
> >> have a tougher time disseminating themselves.
> >Good point.
> >>
> >> (snip)
> >> >enablers. Resistance to evil, however, networks ineffectually.
> >> The proposed
> >> >set of meme must be an organizational principle to resist, expose,
> >> >undermine, and denounce malice and domination, from the petty to the
> >> >flagrant. It should also be an organizational principle for
> constructive
> >> >play, that includes resistance to jealous sabotage.
> >>
> >> OK, this seems clear enough. We may end up with two memes, acting in
> >> partnership.
> >Or even a system of associated memes.
> Yes.
> >> Now, by what measure would you want to have the success of these memes
> >> evaluated?
> >God question. Are there observational and Sociological criteria
> that can be
> >borrowed?
> We are quite focused on getting specific results (taking into the kinds of
> considerations probed, below) and have not looked a general criteria or
> ones coming out of academia. So the question is by what measure YOU would
> want to know the meme(s) succeeded or failed.
Expose and humiliate my and/or other's persecutors publicly, in a self
repeating and systematic manner! Take the joy out of it for them! Break the
power of such behavior. The pursuit of happiness, and the dignity of risk,
without harassment or malicious obstruction. Improved networking, for
different purposes.

> >> Also, some additional questions for you to answer:
> >>
> >> - What is your target population?
> >Perhaps a test group will be targeted. A group badly riddled with vicious
> >cliquishness.
> A test population is fine, so please specify it. (It seems that you are
> thinking of a real situation. If so and if there are elements of it that I
> should know but are private, please communicate with me by direct email.)
I don't give a shit! I'll tell everyone! I was hounded until I was finally
banned, for years, from the ARISIA Science Fiction convention, on vague
allegations of sexual misconduct, which they refused to explain. I even
ended up taking them to court, when all else failed, including letters in my
support from respected Science Fiction writers, and attending ARISA meetings
to seek an audience.

And I know that this was engineered by vicious cult like anti-competitive
sexually exploitative cliques, who scapegoated me.

All in all, an ideal trial environment might be a High School or a Gay Bar.
It's the same tawdry sexual politics.

> >Meme:
> >We are The Clique Busters TM.
> CliqueClasters <grin>
> >> - Who do you want NOT to 'get' the meme?
> >Good question. I welcome positive improvement in anybody's
> behavior. So, is
> >there anyone who should not be infected? Even people who have
> manners, and
> >react against underhanded crap, might welcome these memes into their tool
> >kit.
> So this means, in principle, that no one would be able to disseminate
> malicious gossip?
That there would be better learned behaviors/tactics Epistemic
Methodological investigative checks and filters in society, before the
acceptance of a meme damaging to others.
1) Ask for explanation:
"But what did they actually do wrong?"
But since even this can mark you:
2) Feign Sadistic approval, and pump them for self incrimination that they
would never otherwise disclose under any duress! So desperate for attention
are theses malfeasants.

> I do not anticipate that a meme is 'given' to others to go into their
> toolkits (unless we have taken them on as clients
-or induct them as members
>and that is the goal)
Indeed, that is how I originally envisaged The Clique Buster TM
There could be money in this!

But even the spread of ideas does include new strategies and techniques, for
one's "tool kit".

> be used at their discretion. Rather the meme becomes integrated into their
> sense of reality, seamlessly. Right?
People with manners already have the right reality sense. The integration
into reality sense is for those who have lost manners, that they may be

> >> - Might there be any down-side to accomplishing the goal of the meme?
> >> Would anything of value be lost?
> >I actually don't think so. There are perceived values however, in the
> >preexisting meme complexes I seek to undermine. That domination equals
> >protection, for example. That sexual interest is threatening,
> when in fact
> >it is jealous rage and persecution ensuing, that condition the fear. Etc.
> Now this goes beyond the boundaries of the meme, no?
Yes, into cultural selection theory.

>Beyond the issue of
> malicious gossip?

> >> - Might the meme, defined as you have done so and nothing
> >>more, create any
> >> secondary or tertiary impacts that would be undesirable?
> >I see none. But, in case I am mistaken, your vigilance will be
> >appreciated.
> Let me argue this a bit, more to test your clarity about the outcome you
> want than anything else. Supposing an organization only has the spreading
> of malicious gossip as a way of getting 'undesirable' employees to resign,
> or to 'control' undesirable behavior.
Arguably, such gossip may be true or just. But not if the undesirable
employee is in fact a hero, a whistle blower.

>Suppose further that the
> organization will not know how to find alternative ways of doing this if
> the meme is implanted.
Yes, a blanket squelch would be disastrous. But I hope that I may have
already answered this.

>Or suppose that it does find ways, but that these
> are even more 'destructive' than the malicious gossip way. Is it really
> desirable simply to take away the malicious gossip behavior?
Perhaps it must be part of an over all stratagy.

> >> - Is the goal of the meme sufficiently worthy to justify the
> effort needed
> >> to develop, release and monitor it?
> >Hell, yes!
> Lawrence de Bivort
> The Memetics Group
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This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)